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The Economic Impact of a High National Minimum Wage: Evidence from the 1966 Fair Labor Standards Act

Martha J. Bailey, John DiNardo, Bryan A. Stuart

NBER Working Paper No. 26926
Issued in April 2020
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, Labor Studies

This paper examines the short and longer-term economic effects of the 1966 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which increased the national minimum wage to its highest level of the 20th Century and extended coverage to an additional 9.1 million workers. Exploiting differences in the “bite” of the minimum wage due to regional variation in the standard of living and industry composition, this paper finds that the 1966 FLSA increased wages dramatically but reduced aggregate employment only modestly. However, the disemployment effects were significantly larger among African-American men, forty percent of whom earned below the new minimum wage in 1966.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26926

 
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